Satay

Talay Thai

A couple weeks back, while waiting on a table at Red Star Seafood, we noticed Talay Thai right across the street. Even with a reservation, we’d been waiting almost thirty minutes. We were three empty stomachs dying for a feed. The thought of Thai curries and spicy noodles was starting to overwhelm us. Just as we were about to head over, the hostess called us in. Ah well, dim sum it is…

Talay Thai is a spot I’ve been meaning to hit up for a long, long time. With a continual stream of raves around the web, I got to figuring that this place was a sure thing.

This is one vibrantly colored, tiny room. It’s about as clean as you could imagine, to boot. The moment you enter there’s a warm, comfortable vibe. I’m sensing a great feed!

Por Pia Tod ปอเปี๊ยะทอด (Vegetarian Spring Rolls). Nothing too spectacular yet really well made. Knowing the plum sauce is homemade gave these a step up. It’s not too often a place will take the time and effort to create their own.

The Satay Chicken were sensational. Just plump enough to withstand the grill time without getting dry. A good, long marination gave these so much flavor that the peanut sauce was almost unnecessary.

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Foodblogger Feast at Kalvin’s “Szechuen”

About a month ago, in the midst of a whole bunch of stupidity, Kevin from 604foodtography, suggested a big ol’ chowdown at Kalvin’s Restaurant. Within a day or so, thirteen of us responded with a resounding “Hell, yeah!“. From a rather depressing, unfortunate day, the focus was returned to where it should always be in the food blogging community…on the food! After all, that’s what we’re only here for…right?

Other bloggers at this night’s feast included:

Strange thing about Kalvin’s…the awning says “Kalvin’s Szechuen Restaurant” so I was all geared up for a fiery, chile-laden feast. Turns out they put up mostly Taiwanese fare. No problem…I’m game for anything! There were a few spicy dishes and some interesting Taiwanese I’d not yet tried.

This’d be one of those dishes I’d put in the “I’ll-try-it-one-time” category. The Fondue Spicy Pork with Organ Stew was actually quite tasty if you can get your head around the intestine part. It’s obviously a cultural thing that I’ve yet to adapt to. Texturally, it was fine. No excessive chewiness…not rubbery at all. For me, it’s all about the funky aroma. There’s a load of foods I love that give off strange, unique smells. It’s just that when the smell originates from that part of the animal, it can be difficult to adjust to.

The Pork & Ton Choy in BBQ Sauce also had a unique flavor to it. If you close your eyes, you’d swear you were eating a seafood dish. That was due, according to Kevin, to the use of a satay sauce or, as I later found out, it can be called “Shacha sauce“.  It’s a much different flavor to most satay sauces due to the addition of brill fish and dried shrimp. The ton choy itself was nicely cooked giving the dish a well needed fresh, crisp element.

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Penang Delight Cafe

I’ve been meaning to hit up Penang Delight Cafe for some time now. A couple of weeks back, a trusty colleague went on a scouting mission and returned with two thumbs up. This past weekend I gathered three very hungry cooks together for a Saturday brunch.

Penang is located at Rupert & 23rd in East Van. Over the last couple of years the location was a Filipino restaurant then a Pakastani joint and is now a purveyor of “fine” Malaysian cuisine.

This is a small room. The best way to describe it is “cozy”. The tables are adequate, almost. We got, I think, one of the bigger booths but things were very tight knit. With our hefty appetites and me crazily wielding a DSLR, we made full use of our space. The room was pretty near full and buzzing. Being near mid-afternoon, I was surprised by the crowd. Gotta figure that’s a good thing.

Our server was a very enthusiastic young chap. After we ordered seven or ten dishes he started in with recommendations. Dude! We’re hitting maximum table capacity here! No need for the up-sell!

The Penang Satay were very solid. Four big skewers of beef with a rich, well-made peanut sauce. Tender chunks, these. The chicken version was very close (it’s just not beef!). A great start.

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(Bo Laksa King’s) Bubbles and Bits

If you’re looking for an inspiring story to start the new year, look no further than Bo Han, proprietor of Bo Laksa King‘ s. Recently, The Province’s Elaine Wong did a story about the ongoing struggles in Bo’s homeland, Myanmar. About midway, she tell’s his riveting story. Here’s an excerpt:

Bo was a Grade 12 student in Mawlamyine during the summer of 1988 when protests swept through the country. Thousands of citizens joined the uprising, only to be viciously quashed in a bloody military attack. It is believed thousands were killed in that crackdown.

Like so many other young Burmese, Bo left his family and fled to the jungles on the Thai border where he camped out for four years with student freedom fighters. Finally weakened by constant bouts of malaria, poor diet and living conditions, Bo illegally crossed into Thailand. He squatted in a UN refugee camp for another two years before Canada welcomed him. He has not seen his family in more than twenty years.

Go ahead and read the entire article. It’s a rare glimpse into a beautiful, forgotten corner of the world.

Luckily, for us, Bo learned how to put out some damn good food. I first experienced his amazing Laksa and Roti Canai a year ago. Since then, he and his wife, Tiffany, have moved from a grocery store on Joyce to a brand new shop on Hastings.

This new venue consists of Bo’s kitchen, a bubble tea bar and a compact dining area for sixteen or so. He’s brought the best of his old menu and loaded on a wide variety of ‘Pan-Asian’ cuisine.

I’ve got a rather big problem here. A solo gut and a menu packed with favourite dishes. Beef Rendang, Mee Goreng, Pad Thai, Butter Chicken to name but four. Every one of the five salads look tantalizing. What to do…

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Hawker’s Delight

Hawker’s Delight is a spot I’ve been meaning to visit for quite a while. It offers a mix of South-east Asian fare at dirt-cheap, rock-bottom prices. Not even the Asian food courts would offer Laksa at $5.25, Mee Goreng at $4.75 or meat skewers and spring rolls at 75 cents a piece. How can a restaurant stay afloat with price points so low? With a string of positive blog-posts…I had to find out for myself.

When I first saw their menu (below), I was dumb-founded. Several of my favorite Asian dishes hovering around the $5 mark? This is too good to be true.

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